Now in his late forties, guitarist Marc Ducret has built a career out of taking the essence of various traditions and turning them on their side. With Qui Parle? Ducret has fashioned perhaps his most ambitious and audacious effort to date, a seventy-five minute suite that is bold and almost entirely indefinable in terms of how it references any known style. This is a daring release that creates its own vernacular.
Ranging from chamber-like passages to punk-informed rock themes to free passages to segments that have their roots in the blues but are twisted every which way, and often all within the same piece, Ducret steps outside the box and sees music as a true confluence of ideas. There are no boundaries as Ducret fashions a unique landscape that draws from rural and urban forms, but never quite meets either place.
With a large cast of supporting musicians, Ducret has a broad palette with which to colour his musical canvas. From rock power trios to brass ensembles to spacious piano/keyboards/voice trios, Ducret has composed six extended pieces that are tied together by four short, interlude-like segments. Sounding like Robert Johnson on acid, “L’Annexe (Rural)” is an acoustic guitar solo that introduces “L’Annexe,” which mixes elements of progressive rock, blues and funk with a broader harmonic knowledge that includes atonality and moments of jagged dissonance. Such a varied programme risks sounding contrived and academic, but through it all is passion, intensity and glimpses of true beauty; the wealth of ideas is so rich that new elements are revealed with each and every listen. This is an album where each play feels like the first time.
In the same way that his writing has subsumed a breadth of styles and twisted them at strange angles, so has Ducret’s guitar work managed to reference a diversity of influences, all the while absorbing them into a wholly unique language. With the possible exception of Bill Frisell, there is not a guitarist alive who so richly articulates his roots with such an immediately recognizable and distinctive bent; but compared to the far more oblique Ducret, Frisell sounds positively mainstream.
With a catalogue of recordings that show an artist who is continuing to carve a completely personal space in modern music, Qui Parle? is arguably his best recording to date; certainly it is his boldest and most expansive. Kudos to Sketch Records and Philippe Ghielmetti for having the vision to release what will certainly be one of the most exploratory, demanding and far-reaching albums of 2004.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.